Hamilton Hits LA!
- By Karen Vock
- Photos By Joan Marcus
It seems like all of Southern California wants to be “in the room where it happens” August 11th through December 30th when the Broadway phenomenon HAMILTON makes its highly anticipated arrival in Los Angeles. The room is the legendary Hollywood Pantages Theatre, which will be the eye of the HAMILTON storm for this limited engagement.
HAMILTON – for anyone who needs further explanation – is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s juggernaut hip hop musical about the “ten dollar founding father without a father” Alexander Hamilton that has captivated the critics, enthralled both theater traditionalists as well as trendy young tastemakers and enjoyed a level of celebrity exaltation rarely seen. As for the awards, it’s hard to keep track, but here’s a topline sampling: the 2016 Pulitzer Prize, 11 Tony Awards® including Best Musical (out of a record-breaking 16 nominations) and a 2016 Grammy® for Best Musical Theatre Album which set the Google world ablaze following the cast’s live performance on the broadcast with an immediate and dramatic spike of the query “Who is Alexander Hamilton?”
You might say the frenzy to secure tickets is revolutionary, with tens of thousands of fans waiting for hours on line as well as thousands physically in line when single tickets went on sale to the general public April 30th. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask if the show can possibly live up to all the hype? In a word: YES! I was fortunate to score tickets to HAMILTON on Broadway last year, and I can confidently speak for the entire audience – and anyone else I know who has seen the show: you will be completely enraptured, from rousing, heart pounding start, through the revelation of the revolution, to the emotional and for me, tear-filled finish. It is breathtaking.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is a truly a wonder to have conceived and so magnificently realized (with director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and musical supervisor and orchestrator Alex Lacamoire, all Tony® winners) this miracle of a show: completely original and can’t-turn-away engaging. Seriously, who imagines a debate between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton as a rap battle? It’s an inspired choice and works brilliantly. So, too, does the creative team’s desire to cast the show with people of color, to reflect the country we live in today and invite every American to see their own reflection in this story of the Founding Fathers. In fact, one of the lines that gets the biggest cheers is when Hamilton (born in the West Indies) and the French Marquis de Lafayette high five and sing, “immigrants, we get the job done!”
At the Pantages Theatre, audiences will be hearing and cheering the words and music of Lin-Manuel Miranda, but who will they see onstage? A truly dazzling company of “young, scrappy and hungry” performers (currently winning raves in San Francisco) led by Michael Luwoye in the title role who performed as Hamilton in the Broadway company. Two time Tony® nominee Joshua Henry (The Scottsboro Boys and Violet) will be Aaron Burr, the “damn fool that shot him” and Rory O’Malley will rule the stage (as he did on Broadway the night I attended) with memorable megalomaniacal interludes as the foppish King George. As for the Schuyler sisters, Angelica, Eliza and Peggy, are magnificently performed by Emmy Raver-Lampman, Solea Pfeiffer and Amber Iman. Ruben J. Carbajal as John Laurens/Phillip Hamilton, Jordan Donica as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, Isaiah Johnson as George Washington and Mathenee Treco as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison round out the principal roles.
HAMILTON is based on historian Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton, which Miranda took along as vacation reading the summer of 2007, just before his first musical, IN THE HEIGHTS, opened on Broadway. Miranda was taken with the story and observed that “Hamilton’s whole life was about the power of words and wouldn’t it be great to hear a hip-hop album about how we created this country?” As they say, the rest is history. HAMILTON is the definitive theatrical event of this decade and its arrival at the Hollywood Pantages will no doubt “blow us all away.”
To purchase tickets and more details, click here.